LeBlanc leaves game with left elbow discomfort

Wade LeBlanc threw a curveball this afternoon to Red Sox designated hitter Christian Vázquez in the top of the first inning, signaled to the dugout and waited to be led off the mound.

LeBlanc sustained an apparent injury with two outs and a 1-0 count on his fifth batter. Manager Brandon Hyde, pitching coach Doug Brocail and assistant athletic trainer Mark Shires walked onto the field to check on him.

Shires and LeBlanc walked together to the clubhouse in an unexpected development in the series finale.

A three-start slump for LeBlanc might have turned into something much worse.

Kevin Pillar drove LeBlanc's second pitch of the day, an 83.5 mph cutter, into the Orioles bullpen - his first career leadoff home run.

Rafael Devers popped up and J.D. Martinez flied out. Xander Bogaerts walked on five pitches, the last four changeups ranging from 72-81 mph, and LeBlanc was done after throwing a 65.7 mph curveball to Vázquez.

LeBlanc logged only 14 pitches, eight for strikes before leaving with "left elbow discomfort," according to the press box announcement.

Thomas Eshelman was given ample time to warm up and he struck out Michael Chavis after Vázquez walked.

Thumbnail image for leblanc-pitch-orange-home.jpg.jpgLeBlanc's four-seam fastball has averaged 87.15 mph, per BrooksBaseball.net. He threw two today that were clocked at 86.9 and 85.7 mph.

Nothing to sound any alarms.

This has been a difficult first season for LeBlanc, who began the day with a 7.89 ERA and 1.523 WHIP in five starts over 21 2/3 innings. He allowed 14 runs and 18 hits in his last three outings over 10 2/3 innings.

The veteran left-hander earned the win in his debut in Boston after surrendering four runs with no walks in 5 2/3 innings. He held the Rays to one run in 5 1/3 innings before he began to struggle.

The Orioles signed LeBlanc to a minor league deal on Jan. 28 that paid $800,000 if he made the club, and they selected his contract in July after Major League Baseball resumed activities.

A potential trade chip if he was productive, LeBlanc is now only a candidate to go on the injured list.

Eshelman could return to the rotation in LeBlanc's absence. Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said yesterday that he expected Keegan Akin to return from the alternate camp site later in the summer.

Elias also said pitching prospect Dean Kremer is "knocking on the door, too."

The Orioles are trying to gain a split of their four-game series against the Red Sox.

They loaded the bases against Zack Godley in the bottom of the first on Cedric Mullins' leadoff double, a two-out walk to Pedro Severino and a pitch that nailed Chance Sisco on the lower right leg. But Pat Valaika struck out looking.

Eshelman retired the side in order in the second.

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